Sophie Mercell went to the Guildford School of Acting after graduating in 2013 

Going on to star in various theatre productions, the actress has now joined the all-female cast of ‘The Ugly Duckling: Christmas Special‘ at Hull Truck Theatre.

TBB Talks spoke to Sophie about her involvement in the production.

Hello Sophie can you tell us a little about yourself?

Sure! My name’s Sophie Mercell, I am an actor and DJ from the North-West with mixed Black Caribbean heritage. 

Tell us about your character ‘Spruce’ in this production of The Ugly Duckling?

Spruce is a cygnet striving to always get it right, but who gets easily distracted if there’s opportunity to have fun. Spruce is studious, a teacher’s pet and a bit of a know-it-all. I used to teach kids drama and dance and so a lot of my inspiration for Spruce has come directly from those kids, the ones who would never leave your side, and always had their hand up first if you asked a question, but when given the chance would also lose themselves in wild silliness. 

How do you connect to the character and its plight? 

I definitely connect with the aspect of wanting to get everything right but not having the knowledge or capability to do so yet. When in fact being a child, playing, getting things wrong, having wild imaginations and going on adventures is just as important as the adult stuff.

When we get older there can be such a tendency to look forward to the next exciting thing on the horizon instead of being truly present – which I have to remind myself of all the time. Spruce goes on a journey to explore this during the play.

What drew you to this production?

I knew from the get-go that I wanted to work with The Herd, a company that really champions children’s theatre, and strives to make fun and meaningful work about young people. I also love the storytelling, imagination, and creativity involved in children’s theatre. The fact that this is a Christmas show makes it even more magical to be a part of.

The production is a re-imagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale. Did you use the story as a point of reference? 

Sam Caseley has written such a beautiful story inspired by Anderson’s The Ugly Duckling. The reimagined plot focuses on two cygnets, Sidney and Spruce, who are preparing for their swan displays, where they can prove to the other birds on the pond that they are all grown up and no longer ‘ugly ducklings‘. But the cygnets are distracted from their studies by the magic of the forest world around them. It’s a story about how childhood is not just a rehearsal for adulthood, about friendship and the absolute joy of play and embracing the present!  

You’re joining an all-female cast, how important was it for you to be a part of the production?

I only discovered it was an all-female production when the casting was announced, so it was a wonderful surprise! We’ve also got Ruby, our director, who creates such a playful, creative and safe space to explore ideas. It’s been a joy to share a room with all these amazing female creatives, I’ve learned so much already!

Can you remember the first scene which had the most impact on you? 

Matilda was a stand-out favourite when I was growing up and still is now. My favourite scene was when Matilda shares her magical powers with Miss Honey for the first time in the classroom. That film made me think anything was possible, even the impossible. I still believe that now.

Tell us a bit about your acting journey, how you got into it and why?

I started doing pantomime at Chorley Little Theatre when I was 7 and loved the community spirit in local theatre, plus getting to perform with your friends, mainly dancing with bits of acting in the ensemble.
I took drama at school and my teacher suggested I audition for the National Youth Theatre. I was successful and attended a 2-week course, where I learned a lot and performed with other people my age. I knew then that I didn’t want to do anything else.

What’s next for you?

Next year is currently a blank canvas, which means anything, and everything is possible! I’ve done some lovely theatre jobs this year with some great people, so I’d love to continue that journey and to focus on getting a foot into television too.

What are your plans for Christmas?  

Going home to see the fam, overeating on Mum’s Christmas dinner and lots of cuddles with our dog Ernie.


The Ugly Duckling: Christmas Special runs at the Hull Theatre, Hull from Monday 17th December 2018 – Saturday 5th January 2019. Find out more and book tickets here